Category: Social Media

Thoughts on Facebook Slingshot

(cross posted to Medium to see what happens)

Yesterday Facebook put out their latest app about temporal photos and video with the launch of Slingshot. At it’s core, it’s a photo and video messaging tool that lets you very easily create content to share with friends. However there are a few interesting things that are notable about a new app from Facebook.

nofacebookFacebook is not required. Upon signing up for Slingshot you are greeted with a prompt to enter your mobile number, confirmed with a code, then on to create a new username. Noticeably missing from this process is an easy signup with Facebook button that would connect you to your FB graph. You can easily create an account with just your phone + username. Privacy aside for the moment, this is a shift in how I have seen most FB products create a first time experience for users.

Permissions walkthroughs. Intelligent walkthroughs that ask permissions along the way. The holy grail for most apps these days is to ask for ALL THE PERMISSIONS up front from a user, giving the app immense powers should they decide to tuck it away into a deep folder in their phone. Things like push notifications, syncing contacts, location services — all make the apps better but its hard to get someone to say “yes” before explaining the value exchanged. Slingshot does this by showing you the benefits, and hoping you will concede to the system level permissions (at least on iOS).

Forced participation. Slingshot makes you “pay-to-play” by requiring you to “sling” (slingshot?) a photo or video to a friend to get started, and subsequently sling another to see someones response. Unlike the world of text messaging where you can read the message before responding, this flips the model on its head and makes you create a message before responding to the original message. In trying this out with a few friends who signed up last night, I found myself slinging pictures of my dog to unlock the pictures a friend had sent me. This continued as their responses were unreadable until I Slingshotted back. I could see how this perpetual engagement model creates a virtuous cycle of participation.

Juking the stats

“…you juke the stats and majors become colonels…”

In slingin’ with my friend Adam, we both wondered if this was the ultimate Dark Pattern. However I wonder if this is a new pattern on the journey that should actually be called forced engagement, or simply juking the stats. As described, you need to create a photo or video and send (sorry sling) back to a friend to unlock that persons content. As startups are constantly measured by either sales or engagement, this is a metric that will make Slingshot look to upend the rules of engagement of web audiences. Having everyone who uses the app be at 100% participation is a new model for any social stream or mobile app — something I have not seen successfully done before.

To further bring this to light, imagine if folks in other industries did the same thing;

I am excited to follow the progress of Slingshot as I think its a unique approach to gain adoption and engagement from users. I can’t help but put on my sales hat and think about monetization opportunities for Slingshot and wanted to brainstorm them here.

Monetization ideas for Slingshot

Scrooge

Promoted Slings — ok this is the low hanging fruit, but you know someone has already approached Facebook about doing these. I could imagine a a brand needing to come up with a story of “slings” that are unlocked only when users interact with them. If someone makes it through the entire funnel (thinking 3 tops) then a brand could show they engaged a user 3 times telling them a photo or video story.

Slingbacks — Not interested in creating content and becoming a part of the 1%? Watch these promoted Slingbacks instead! CPM based ads that unlock friends content without you having to create content. Friends get notified that you opted out of playing “the game” and got to see their content anyways.

Stickers/add-ons/in app purchases — this is the obvious choice so I am putting it last. This would be the ability to add some “flare” to your slings by purchasing digital content, either from brands directly or just a monetization path for Facebook.

In conclusion I have a few messages waiting for me to reply back, but I am not sure if I am willing to get back on the content train — most of the payoff has not been worth it yet as my friends are just experimenting (sorry Matt I may never know what you sent me!)

2014-06-18 09.22.27

Talking Brands

I was reminded last night while watching the Super Bowl that more brands are talking.  They are not only speaking directly to people on Twitter and Facebook, but also to each other.  All were trying to capture real time moments in their prose, hoping to capture mindshare.

Hashtags also were essential in messages, and there are some great scorecards of how brands did here and here.

This was definitely not always the case and even remarkable when it occured – back in 2008 Boxee was talking to Pandora

Here is a updated snippet of what happened

I love that brands of all sizes are given an equal platform on Twitter to communicate.  Obviously customer service has become a central use case for Twitter, but it affords anyone with access the ability to communicate.

These platforms allow the smallest startups to build trust, evangelize their products, and hopefully build something valuable over the long term.  I don’t know of a case where a brand has invested in this type of customer community building and it has not been helpful.   Sure there are gaffs and folks that don’t get it, but once its happening correctly its invaluable to the company or service.

There are many ways to communicate with brands you love, and take action with brands you have issue with.  I think this type of communication is great and whether or not the brand has a small personality or millions of followers.  Being able to actively speak to your customers when they are not on your site, in your store, or using your software – but at a moment where they need you is critical.

 

Sentiment Analysis

Understanding when your company or brand is being talked about is important. Understanding whether or not your company or brand is being talked about positively or negatively may be more important.

In the last few years the research behind sentiment analysis has ranged from thumbs upthumbs down and emoticon faces to more advanced methods.

A few companies mentioned in the article above are trying to sort out the signal from the noise like Tweetfeel, twendz, and twitrratr and others like Trendrr (can I buy a vowel please alex). Each has their own way of parsing data, mainly Twitter data, to mine the conversations for sentiment.

In the larger universe of analytical tools you have companies like BuzzLogic, TechRigy, Radian6, Visible Technologies, Viral Heat, and a bunch of new startups all trying to solve this marketers puzzle.

At the low end these services cost $10.00-$20.00 per month and on the high end thousands. Depending on what you are tracking, how far back you want to go, and how hands on of a solution you need, someone is building a sentiment analysis tracker for your.

The goal here is to track beyond mentions. For example, if your brand is mentioned 2,654 times – how do you know what the sentiment of mostsomeall of those messages are? Where are conversations happening about your brand in the first place? How can you respond back to solve problems, answer questions, and apologize where necessary?

In thinking about the sentiment analysis market, I am trying to frame thinking 5 years out when brands will themselves have more conduits to their customers. Will systems still exist that brands do not know about and are not tracking? Or will the convergence of connectivity mean a more aware corporate culture that does not need to use yet another tool in their arsenal. Perhaps 5 years is too short of a timeline, but certainly they will have a grasp on this in 10-20 years.

I am curious to know what tools I should be looking at and how people are solving brand tracking probelms today. Let me know if you have ideas in the comments below.

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Quality over Volume

I recently went to a discussion in NYC called Social Media Bootcamp which was put on by Seth Goldstein of SocialMedia.com I am bit late to posting – but nonetheless my thoughts are below.

The main takeaway for me over the course of the half day event was that quality over volume wins every time. Many campaigns have an ability to gain a large share of voice simply by throwing media dollars at traditional channels to try to capture market share, but this strategy is quickly fading.

The day was structured beginning with opening remarks by Fred Wilson, and John Borthwick of Betaworks as a primer to how companies in this space are viewed by those that provide capital for them to grow. This was followed by a number of case studies showing the

Seth’s opening presentation:

No amount of noise will change perception of a product or service and the only way to influence reality is to devote your time towards quality. There were many great case studies from this days events that I am sure are available on the web.

Great Ways to become a Personal Brand Online

Every so often I connect with people working on interesting projects or strike up great conversations – in that vein I invite those interested in guest blogging at Marketing.fm and invite any reader to do the same if they need a platform. Get in touch!

Guest post from Ben Johnson of LogoInn, custom logo design.

Personal branding is gaining popularity as it is opening doors to everyone who wants to benefit out of it in one way or the other. Recession is knocking everywhere and there are a lot of layoffs in many companies including the big ones as well. No one feels protected and there is no job security for anyone. Under such circumstances, I don’t need to wonder why people are putting their efforts in creating personal profiles online.

Personal branding has become very essential, you need to differentiate your brand in terms of your expertise/ knowledge, and social media provide that platform and power to reach out to people online and create a powerful and long lasting personal brand. Why it has become so important is because of the fact that you can portray your talents and goals to people who are pertinent to catering your purpose of personal branding.
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How to get new customers: Communicate

AdAge recently published a story called Six Ways Ad Agencies Are Reeling in New Business Now from Rupal Parekh

In it they describe 6 ways you can get new customers (as an ad agency) which really speak volumes about any organization whether you are an ad agency or a simply trying to sell a product.

1. Network Innovatively
2. Show your social media savvy
3. Adopt a recognizable platform
4. Be willing to contort
5. Write a book
6. Offer a direct line to the CEO

I do not agree with the definition of each by AdAge but the general gist it simple communicate. I provided my thoughts on each of these 6 below and how they may translate out to a larger group beyond simply ad agencies.

Networking is key, but doing it properly can mean the difference between being labeled a thought leader and a sales guy. I agree with what John Coleman does, and participate personally in these types of small innovative thinking sessions that are sparked by a single topic. This provides a non-invasive way of getting to know people without much pretense.

Showing your savvy and accepting one platform There are many ways to do this – but I think adopting multiple platforms is a great way to learn and understand a market. If your goal is to get clients, make sales, close business – than understanding what is out there and having an agnostic approach will serve you better than sticking to one platform. Showing your savvy will happen as your expertise develops across multiple platforms and you are able to make agile jumps to new things that come out. Nothing is worse than being pitched on a platform simply because there is no knowledge of other options.

Be able to contourt
– this screams COMMUNICATION to me. As the world changes, so should your ability to adapt to customer needs. The cited example is building up an agency around a large brand (Dell). IMHO this should happen EVERY time there is a new brand brought in and account team formed. On a more realistic scaling front, this can be done in the form of listening to the needs of the potential customer and making sure you can meet them. (For those naysayers that state you cannot fit everyone into your business and stay strong against customizing all jobs – take this advice with a grain of salt as I know it will not work for everyone.)

Write a book Everyone jumps at the ambitiousness of this statement. It should read Write an E-Book its simple to do (.DOC to .PDF) low cost (Time) and free to publish (Ill let you publish it here if you want on Marketing.fm)

The work involved will be worth the effort even if nobody reads it (which will not be the case) as you will learn valuable lessons about your ideas and how they really look once they are structured in a publishable format.

Offer a direct line to the CEO Once again the genesis of this idea is communication. You should have open channels and folks that want to be concise, clear, and honest. Hopefully CEO contact will happen as a result of wanting to praise the work vs. move up the chain to be mad at a company. The overall point is that you should empower your employees to solve problems so that speaking to the CEO will be a nice bonus, but not a requirement for solving an issue.

If any agency, or individual wants to pursue one or more of these topics and needs a platform to do so (read: guest blog) feel free to reach out.

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Sidebar Widgets – Google Reader Shared Items

Image representing Google Reader as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

I recently added another widget to this blogs sidebar that will display items that I “share” from my Google reader. These items automatically get pulled into my FriendFeed stream but not very well read. Now when I share an item from my reader it will automatically be displayed in the right hand side of this blog – with the original author info as well – for you to click through and read about.

You can see the full listing of items that I share on my shared items page which you can subscribe to as well. As I have mentioned before I believe Google is becoming a social network that surfaces parts you need only when you need them.

I have tried other blog bling in the past and some is still a part of the site while others are not. That is the fun of having a blog to experiment on – if you do not like this feature let me know!

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Google Launched a Social Network (you just didn’t realize it)

There has been a lot of talk and speculation about how and when Google will jump into the social networking space. I think Google already launched a social network – its called Gmail. (Leaving Orkutout of this thought process and other iterations)

As I said in the final line of my last post the best social network might be one you are already on, but never proactively joined.

By having a gmail account you can;
chat with your friends across multiple networks
video chat with your friends
search all your correspondence
access everything via mobile and more apps
…and much much more.

This is not to mention all the other Google features that somehow are finding their way woven together.

What is the underlying central point for all this? I believe it will soon be your Google profile page, but not yet. For now its Gmail.

The reason is because people are having the continued problem of signing up for yet another account on yet another network. I believe the most beneficial network is one you do not even realize you are a part of. If you are anything like me you have way too many profiles already.

By delivering value at the point you need it without cluttering up the experience with features you don’t Google is delivering the ultimate disintermediated experience.

Who wants game apps when you want to video chat?
Why deal with comments and replies when you want to send a direct email?
Looking for a place to eat with friends via mobile? Then why clutter the area with favorites and status?

Each is solved with the ever ubiquitous Google account via any number of devices, all connected via the social network that is there when you need it with the functions you want – while hiding everything else.

Now that Google is encroaching on real estate on my blog, I expect features to roll out that pertain to “me the publisher” and will surface when I need them. For those that do not have a blog or a need for Google Friend Connect – they will never know it exists, which is exactly how social networking features should be.

Seamless transitions between the things you need and the things you don’t are what make a service great. Not knowing you are on the network is what will make the service succeed.

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Google Friend Connect (there is a new widget in town)

I added the Google Friend Connect widget to my blog today as they have begun sending out invites to the program.. Please join on the right hand sidebar if you are interested. Official notification is here.

This certainly represents a new direction for interacting with Google as more of a social network. You can now become an active “member” of this site, which will probably have more implications later on.

Blogs are active discussing the implications of Google Friend Connect, but the real battle is on as Facebook has also rolled out their own program, aptly called Facebook Connect, but is it enough?

I also noticed recently that some sites, like TechCrunch, are using the Facebook Connect system for authenticating blog comments. The interesting thing to note here is that this is not simply adding content to TechCrunch but also sending things back to Facebook.

…Facebook Connect doesn’t let information flow just one way. You can now post notifications of your comments to your Facebook wall whenever contributing here on TechCrunch. After hitting the “Add Comment” button, just select a type of feed item (which Facebook calls a “story”) and your friends on Facebook will have the chance to appreciate your snark and wit.

(source)

So what does this mean for this blog? What does this mean for other blogs?

Well, its a race for early adopters in my opinion because with the presence of MyBlogLog and now Google Friend Connect in my sidebar – would you even want a third? I currently use Disqus which solved the problem I had managing comments via email and comment spam.

As more people add Google Friend Connect to their blogs Google is gaining more real estate on pages, much like they did with the adsense program. What they do with this space remains to be seen.

I think that Google is slowly creating a social network with all the recent features it has been quietly releasing such as your own Google profile page, as explained by Chris Brogan. When signed into Google you can checkout your profile here. We might not think of this as a traditional social network with chat rooms, comments, photo sharing and a news feed, but with recent additions to Gmail and now Google Friend connect I think Google is going to pull all these things together.

The best social network might be one you are already on, but never proactively joined.

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Participation and Consumption Culture

When you are on the web you are most likely doing one or both of these things. Many people have tried to measure the ratio of how much active participation happens vs. how much consumption happens.

My friend Adam recently wrote about finding the right ratio of persistence, passion, and quality to try to come up with the formula for success.

In it he references the 90-90-1 principle from Jakob Nielsen known as the participation inequality.

Luckily for Adam and others Jake McKee has created a site specifically designed to explain and explore the 90-90-1 Principle:

It explains the principle and narrows down the explanation in a way that is easily digestible and of course shareable with others.

worth noting:

The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us. It’s existed in every online community and multi-user service that has ever been studied.

This is not a bad thing!

Having a continued concentration on quality over quantity we allow for an evolution of contributors to occur. Those that try to crank out mass quantities suffer from a quality problem, which in turn will lead to an audience problem, thus most likely lower the amount they contribute back. Those that contribute high quality postings and gain the trust and attention of an audience are more likely to continue the trend, and push them to come up with better materials.

With the advent of spam blogs and republished content coming up everywhere one could argue that the signal to noise ratio is getting worse. On the other hand, with the barriers to entry so low for new participants to enter this space we may be getting much more signal than we realize. I have seen that shift on my blog with simplifying my comment system with Disqus, going through a redesign, and keeping up with where and how my readers interact with my site.

Keeping up with comments is only part of participating with your community. Monitoring where your content gets consumed, whether by RSS, email, or on your page, is also very important.

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